Haven’t we all enjoyed the benefits of hosting our website on the WordPress CMS platform? With the growing number of WordPress developers and varied functionality added by its many easy-to-install plugins and themes, WordPress is a favourite platform used by over 30% of all websites.
However, we have all been guilty of neglecting the security aspect of our WordPress websites at some time or the other, haven’t we? Be it by using cheaper web hosts, weak passwords, or outdated plugins and themes; we have played our small part in making WordPress websites more vulnerable to various hacks such as malware attacks, brute force attacks, and SQL injections.
This might make you wonder on why website security is so important? Let’s start with a revealing statistic: Hackers are targeting WordPress-powered websites at the rate of 90,978 attacks in every 60 seconds!
As a website owner, that’s a very grim and worrying statistics. Luckily for you, there are plenty of free and paid WordPress security plugins available in the market today that can protect your website from a variety of online attacks. They can also quickly restore your website to normal in the event of any such calamity.
So, while selecting a WordPress security plugin, keep in mind that the plugin must be able to provide a complete security package with the following three-pronged approach, namely:
- Protecting your website from malware and other infections.
- Clean and restore your website (if compromised) by removing the threat.
- Strengthen (or harden) your website from future attacks.
Now that you know what functionalities to look for in a plugin, you might contemplate which WordPress security plugin is best suited for your website? Well, you don’t need to fret and do tons of research over the subject because we’ve done that homework for you! We’ve compared 5 of the most popular and accepted security plugins.
But, before we jump onto the details, let’s settle the most important debate of free and paid security plugins – for once and for all!
Free or Paid Plugin – What Should You Opt For?
Before comparing the top 5 security plugins, it would surely be good to answer the above question? What’s better – a free or a paid plugin? While a free plugin is more tempting to buy, can it provide a comprehensive security solution for your WordPress website? Well, the answer is a resounding NO! Most of them have limited functionality that can only take care of certain security aspects of your website.
Even with paid security plugins, there are free versions that have limited features. For instance, a free plugin may have the “malware scanning and detection” functionality that could instantly detect any infection on your website. However, you may need to upgrade to the paid version to remove the malware infection or pay a one-time fee for it. On the other hand, a paid plugin is available with all security features and benefits.
Our recommendation: Do not compromise your website security for a few bucks! Always opt for a paid plugin.
Next, let’s discuss the features of each of the following five WordPress security plugins along with their pros and cons:
- iThemes Security
Trusted by over 400,000 websites across the globe, the MalCare WordPress security plugin from the house of BlogVault offers complete protection from various types of malware infections. Easy to install and use, MalCare offers 1-click malware detection and removal capabilities that ensure all-round security for your WordPress website. Here are some of the distinguishing features of this popular WordPress security tool:
- Advanced Deep Scan technology that can scan and detect hidden malware in your website. Using over 100 intelligent signals, MalCare can track every change being made on your website and can find the exact location of malware injection. With MalCare, you can choose between daily automatic scans (that automatically scans your website daily) or an on-demand scan (that immediately scans your website for any malware infections).
- One-click Malware Removal functionality that can help you remove a malware infection (when detected) immediately without waiting for any technical support. Thanks to its use of intelligent signals, MalCare can remove just the malware infection through surgical precision without impacting the original file.
- Comprehensive Web Application Firewall that can shield your website from malicious IP requests and unauthorised entries. From its ever-growing database of suspicious IPs, the MalCare firewall can smartly block any request coming from these flagged IP addresses.MalCare also has the Geo-Blocking feature that lets you block IP requests made from a specific geographical location. This is very useful when you observe that most of the suspicious IP requests are repeatedly made from a specific region or country.
- Login Page Protection functionality that prevents hackers from gaining illegal access to your WordPress account through vulnerabilities in the login page. This includes measures like – use of the CAPTCHA tool to detect automated bots and limit the number of failed login attempts, along with the 2-Factor Authentication (2FA) during the login process.
- WordPress Hardening measures are recommended by WordPress for website security and can be easily implemented using the MalCare security tool. This includes security measures like:
- Disabling the File Editor
- Blocking PHP file execution
- Changing the security keys
- Disabling the installation of plugins and themes
- Website Management feature that lets you manage all your users and installed plugins/ themes from a single location. With the MalCare tool, you can add, update, and manage plugins and themes (across multiple websites) from a single centralised dashboard. You can also add users and assign privileges with the user management facility.
- MalCare also provides website Backup facility, with the help of the BlogVault backup tool that takes periodic backups of your overall website data so that you can restore your website (if compromised by hackers) in quick time. Other BlogVault backup features include website staging environment and migration to a different domain.
- You can use the White Labelling feature of MalCare for customisation and personalisation. Through the help of this tool, your WordPress developer can rebrand this solution (as your own to your customers) by hiding the “MalCare” tool name.
Along with a free version, the MalCare tool is available in three different plans and are priced according to the number of websites to be secured.
|Number of Websites||Basic Plan||Plus Plan||Advanced Plan|
|1 website||$8.25 per month||$12.41 per month||$20.75 per month|
|Up to 5 websites||$21.58 per month||$29.91 per month||$45.75 per month|
|Up to 20 websites||$49.9 per month||$66.6 per month||$124.9 per month|
If you are looking to secure more than 20 websites, contact the MalCare team directly to get a special price.
In summary, here are the pros and cons of the MalCare tool:
|Easy malware detection and removal
Efficient scanning of even unknown malware
Easy website management from a single dashboard
|Website Backup functionality only available in Plus and Advanced plans|
As a cloud-based security plugin, Sucuri works not just for WordPress websites but also for other CMS platforms like Joomla and Drupal. This popular tool offers complete protection from a variety of online threats like malware, brute force attacks, and more. Among the widely popular tools for website security, Sucuri offers multiple functionalities including:
- Malware Scanning and Detection functionality that checks your WordPress website files for threats like backdoors, phishing pages, and DDoS attacks. Other capabilities of this tool include monitoring of Google blacklisting of your website, spam attacks, and for any changes in your website’s DNS settings. Sucuri supports two types of malware scanners, namely Remote scanning (implemented from a remote location) and the Server-side scanning (that scans every PHP file on your website for any backdoors or any other infections).
- Protection from Website Hack functionality that includes a cloud-based firewall and Intrusion Prevention System (or IPS) that offers protection against any malware code. The Sucuri tool analyses the data related to online attacks and uses this information to keep websites secure and protected. Additionally, it provides login page protection through effective measures like 2-Factor Authentication and CAPTCHA tool.
- Content Delivery Network (or CDN) that uses a global server network to distribute website content based on the user’s geographical location, thus improving website performance and speed.
- Malware removal features that provide you with unlimited access to the Sucuri security team who have the necessary expertise to detect and remove any malware infection in your website.
- Other security-related features like regular prompts for updating plugins and themes, updating account passwords, and regular backups.
- Website Backup facility for a daily or monthly backup of your website data and storage on Sucuri’s cloud platform for easy and quick retrieval.
The Sucuri tool is available in the three plans:
|Basic Plan||Pro Plan||Business Plan|
|$199.99 per year||$299.99 per year||$499.99 per year|
In summary, here are the pros and cons of the Sucuri tool:
|Monitoring of Google Blacklisting
Website performance due to CDN
|Technical help required in malware removal|
Wordfence is another widely used WordPress security tool with comprehensive security features like endpoint firewall and malware detection and removal. In addition to protection against malware, this tool is also a good guard against brute force attacks that target the login page of your website. Here are some of its features that makes it so popular among WordPress users:
- Endpoint Firewall Protection that blocks suspicious IP addresses, and maintains a list of such IP addresses that launch hacking attacks on websites across the globe. It also monitors new malware attacks and turns them into new malware signatures to block the malware from your website. Other firewall features, including blocking attacks from a specific country using Wordfence’s country blocking functionality.
- Malware Scanning functionality that checks your WordPress core files for any backdoors, malicious code and requests, SEO spam emails, and any security vulnerabilities. It also regularly compares your website files with the WordPress repository files to check for any major discrepancies.
- Malware removal feature that searches for any malicious code in your website files and if found, replaces the file with the original file. To remove malware, you need to call their security analysts to fix the problem and restore your website. The Wordfence professionals perform a complete investigation of your website vulnerability, remove any blacklisting, and provide a complete report of their findings.
- Other security-related features include effective login page protection and a restricted number of failed logins.
The Wordfence tool is available in both free and paid versions with the paid version priced according to the number of licenses required. Higher the number of licenses, the more is the discount offered by Wordfence.
|Number of licenses||Discount||Pricing (Per License)|
|2 to 4||10%||$89|
|5 to 9||15%||$84.15|
|10 to 14||20%||$79.20|
In summary, here are the pros and cons of the Wordfence tool:
|Effective end-point firewall protection
Early detection of malware
Protection from brute force attacks
|No automatic malware removal tool
No website management feature
Not effective against new or complex malware
The tool runs on the client’s web server thus reducing performance
SiteLock is a cloud-based security solution that is available for WordPress-powered websites across the globe. As a security solution, SiteLock is provided by various web host providers. However, as compared to the other security plugins, SiteLock takes more time to be installed and configured with your website.
Some of its main features include:
- Advanced Malware Scanning feature that scans for malware infections regularly on your website and also checks for any outdated plugins and vulnerabilities. In addition to malware, SiteLock scans your website for spam messages, SQL injections, and cross-site scripting.
- Malware removal feature that detects and removes a majority of malware infections on your website. SiteLock also provides cybersecurity experts who get involved when complex malware infections compromise your website.
- Cloud-based Web Application Firewall feature that blocks both malware and automated bots from entering your website. SiteLock’s firewall also prevents unauthorised website access, redirection of incoming traffic, and data loss. By blocking unwanted traffic, SiteLock can improve website performance by over 50%
- Content Delivery Network (or CDN) feature that uses a network of geographically located servers to deliver website content. This can improve your website performance while using lesser web server bandwidth. SiteLock also improves website speed through browser caching that stores website content on the user’s browser or device.
SiteLock is available in the following three packages:
|Secure Starter||Secure Speed||Secure Site|
|$30 monthly||$50 monthly||$70 monthly|
In summary, here are the pros and cons of the SiteLock tool:
|Continuous scanning for malware
Effective firewall protection
Removing the blacklisting of websites
|Incomplete removal of malware infections
Not easy to set up on your browser with its 24-hour installation process
Lack of early detection of malware
iThemes Security is another popular WordPress security plugin that can protect your website from common security issues. A notable missing feature of iThemes Security is that this tool does not have an in-built malware scanning tool but utilises the Sucuri tool to perform this operation.
iThemes Security offers a variety of security features such as:
- Protection from Brute Force Attacks by limiting the number of failed login attempts to your WordPress account. The tool can also detect login attempts by automated bots that can enter and damage your website files.
- Detection of Security Threats by monitoring website files for any file changes made by hackers.
- 2-Factor Authentication (or 2FA) feature to ensure that only authorised users can gain access to the website file. 2FA works on the basis of the user entering their login credentials along with an OTP code (sent to their mobile phone) to log into their account.
- Dashboard feature that displays all your security logs and other data.
- User Security Check feature that offers proper user management with actions like regular password changes and assigning of user roles.
- WordPress Version Management feature that allows you to update all your installed plugins, themes, and WordPress version from a single location.
iThemes Security is available in three packages that are based on the number of websites to be secured:
|Blogger package||Small Business package||Gold package|
|Number of websites||1||Maximum of 10||Unlimited|
In summary, here are the pros and cons of the iThemes Security tool:
|Effective login page protection
Protection from brute force attacks
|No early malware detection
No easy malware removal process
No in-built firewall
While there is no such thing as “100% protection from hackers,” the security plugins discussed in this write-up can go a long way in protecting your website from most of the online threats. Which is the best security solution for your website?
While we would recommend the use of the MalCare tool with its comprehensive malware detection and removal capability, your final decision must be based on what works for your website and which security plugin can fulfil your requirements.
We do hope this article helps you find the best security plugin for your website.